As the calendar turns to May, it's always interesting to see how good your words taste. The fate of writers is to throw a bunch of predictions at the wall and then boast about the ones they got right while furiously denying the ever made the ones they got wrong. Sadly, AN has a search function so today I'll cop to the words that have been prophetic and the ones that have been, quite frankly, delicious...
"Leave Khris Alone, He'll Be Fine"
Amidst much hand-wringing, proposed demotions to AAA, panic and dismay, I suggested that the best approach to Khris Davis' struggles was to keep letting him play and trust that his whiffs would soon turn to hard contact and long HRs. Granted, Davis was batting .012/.012/.012 at the time, had managed to strike out from the on deck circle his previous at bat, and somehow swung and missed seven times while I was typing the brief comment, but nonetheless I felt "stay the course" was the right approach.
This one looks good in hindsight, as over his last 10 games Davis has batted .275 with 3 HRs and has earned his way into the cleanup spot. He will always strikeout a lot (6 more times over these 10 games and a team high 26 for the season), but in standing pat Bob Melvin has accomplished two essential things at once: he has sent a message to the team that he will not over-react to a horrible two weeks and he has got himself the middle-of-the-order threat the A's thought they were acquiring.
"Rodriguez Will Outperform Axford And Take Over His Role"
There are times you want to eat your words and this is one of them. Fernando Rodriguez has not, in fact, been better than John Axford, though it's through no fault of his own. Rodriguez is off to a great start, throwing 15 IP, allowing just 9 hits and 2 ER, with 5 BB and 14 K.
However, to my pleasant surprise Axford has been nothing short of sensational: 12⅓ IP, 10 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. The zero walks are the biggest shock, but while Axford has had more than his fair share of 2-0 counts he has been able to put away those batters and offer Oakland a legitimate plus-reliever in a set-up role.
"Semien Will Have A Breakout Season"
On this you can debate whether or not Semien's results so far qualify as a true breakout season in progress, because the batting average is low (.205). If he finishes the season batting .205 you will have to temper some of the praise, but still it's hard to see what Semien is doing and not be excited.
Semien's 6 HRs have helped him to a .449 slugging percentage, his walk rate is up (10.2%, up from last year's 7.0%), he has made just 2 errors and perhaps more importantly he has made quite a few exceptional plays -- plays he could not have dreamed of making one year ago today. Sprinkle a few more hits in along the way and that breakout season seems likely.
"Love The Guy, But Coco Is Done, Done, Done"
Don't stick the fork in just yet, folks: he may be Crisp but he's not done yet. Coco may not be the consistent force he was in 2012-13, but he has been a positive contributor to the 2016 squad.
Batting a rather surprisingly solid .219/.311/.422, Crisp has sprinkled in a game-winning HR, the 2-run HR which contributed to the A's win Friday night, reliable and intelligent defense in LF, clutch plate appearances drawing key walks late in games, and 4 stolen bases. The guy is a worthy double for John Cleese's character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
"By Midseason, Madson Will Have Taken Over The Primary Closer's Role From Doolittle"
Well, that one didn't even take until May.
Your thoughts on these five unfolding stories? Your thoughts on the next set of questions? Those might include:
- Will Yonder Alonso regress back to career norms (more like a .340 OBP) or will he flirt with the Mendoza line for the season?
- Is Kendall Graveman, currently the #4 SP, more like the #3 SP he looks like at times or more like the #5 SP he looks like at times?
- Is Burns' current slash line of .278/.321/.367 going to improve, get worse, or stay nearly identical, as the full season unfolds?
- Can Liam Hendriks turn it around to be the plus reliever he was last season?